It's been quite the week of ups and downs. I'm a rather strange mixture of happy for the progress of some and extremely disappointed for the use of agency of others. I haven't much time, so I'll just say that of the 15 people (we counted) that accepted a baptismal date and said that they most definitely would be coming to church, 3 of them showed up. I've officially determined that there's a 1/5 rule in the agency of others. For all of the people we invite to church, 1/5 of them will actually show up. So basically, if I invite all of Mexico to church, a little more than the state of Hidalgo will show up. Challenge semi-accepted. Those that did show up are fortunately rather progressive and have friends that will keep bringing them to church and helping them to progress. We'll see how it goes.
We also found out that of our 3 possible baptisms this week, only one of them was actually going to happen... and it wasn't even going to count for us because no one told us that any 8 year old child is automatically the responsibility of the ward to baptize, even if his parents are less actives. LAAAAAAAME! It was still a great baptism, and the other two have their dates for October 10th now. Hopefully they come through this time...
On the super bright side, we have interviews with President tomorrow, and it's always the highlight of... well, every 3 months. I have a list of questions to ask him, and I only have 15 minutes to ask them all.
If there's anything I've learned this week, it's that Satan tries really hard to get us down sometimes. With everything that happened with our investigators not being in church, my bike breaking three times this week, and the baptisms falling through, Satan won a few battles in the depths of my soul. Satan is powerful, but I have also learned that God is much more powerful, and He will always prevail if we pray and ask for His strength. Despite the depressions of the week, we'll keep going and see what miracles we can find next week.
Iré y haré.
Oh my goodness! Best. Week. Ever! I don't know who started praying for us out here in the mission field again, but it's most certainly working! For starters, we had 10 investigators at church this Sunday! That was absolutely unheard of back in Valle Dorado! We're gonna break it next week. The best part of the 10 at church was that 8 of them have baptismal dates, and the other two were investigators brought by members that we hadn't ever met before! Boom, two new referenes received and contacted right there. And they already have an attendance at church! :D
We've got two baptisms lined up for this Saturday, four for the weekend after conference, and it looks like two more for the weekend after that. The missionary life is looking pretty sweet out here in Presas.
Big news of this week: I found out that I'm officially a grandpa in the mission. That's right, Elder Gonzalez is training. My grandson's name is Elder Johnson, a güero who apparently speaks hardly any Spanish. I don't know him personally yet, but I'm super proud of Elder Gonzalez.
The sad part of this week was that Hermana Negrete in our district had to go home for her skin condition. We're hoping she'll be back in the mission soon, but it's hard to say at this point. Her replacement's name is Hermana Alvarez, and she has 4.5 months in the mission as of right now. She seems really ready to work, so we'll see what goes down.
Funniest moment of this week: We were teaching the Garcia family (SUPER receptive and ready for the gospel; baptismal date for October 10th), and it was time for the closing prayer. Their son of 8 years ALWAYS wants to say the prayer (it's awesome), but it was Elder Gallegos's turn to pick. He turns to me and says, "well, Elder Groesbeck is wearing black, and so is Hermana María del Carmen, so it looks like she gets to say the prayer." In the middle of saying this, Kassiel sprints off to his room, and comes back wearing the black suit coat he wore to church earlier that day and shouted, "I'm wearing black! Can I say the prayer now!?" Oh my goodness, it was SO funny! I just about died.
It's been really interesting to see the changes in myself and how they line up with the effectiveness of the missionarywork that's been going on. I've lately been really trying to consecrate myself to the work in every aspect; thought, word, and deed. I'd been doing pretty well with the word and deed part, but I found my thoughts wandering to other things that didn't have much to do with my mission. I made the conscious decicison to watch EVERYTHING I think about. It's been a little tough, but as I keep making the effort, I know it will get easier. At the same time as when I started said effort, the miracles really began to flow in. We've had members send us text messages about every day saying, "Hey, Elders! We have an investigator coming over today at ______. Can you guys come?" And then we change around our schedule so we can make it there. The confidence of the members in us has really grown strong in these past few weeks, and they're giving us any and every reference that they have. I think a very large part of it has to do with the fact that I play the piano every Sunday in church, and the members LOVE it! Mom, I know what you're thinking, and yes, I give the credit to you when people ask me about it.
Anyways, it's really strengthened my testimony in the importance of giving all of my heart, might, mind, and strength to the Lord when doing His work. As I have exerted a more focused effort on doing so, the number of miracles we've seen has shown a direct correlation in their quantity. It's been absolutely amazing being able to see the changes in people's lives as they come to truly accept the gospel. They're able to better see us as true representatives of Jesus Christ and they know that our message is important. They don't just believe it. They know it, and very soon they will come to know that the message really is true. I absolutely love it here in Mexico, and there's no other place in the world I'd rather be.
Iré y haré,
It's been a pretty awesome week this week. First things first, we had the absolutely wonderful blessing on Sunday to go to the temple rededication services. The Spirit was so abundant there, and I knew that although I was in our stake center watching a transimition, I was in the temple. It was the exact same spirit that is ever-present there, and I had no idea how much I missed it. It's a little strange: before the mission, I was a little bummed out because I thought it would be two years before I would be able to go to the temple again. I was wrong. Unfortunately, I don't think I'll have an opportunity like this again in my mission, so it'll be another 16-ish months before I'll be able to go again. Hopefully I'll survive...
At this point, Elder Gallegos and I are finally seeing the fruits of our labors. We have investigators lined up to be baptized on the 26th, the 10th (the 3rd is General Conference), and the 17th. We'll keep working to get some more, but it's gonna take quite a bit of effort and a couple of miracles. These past few weeks we've seen some pretty great miracles, some of which I believe I talked about last week. The first of which is the golden family who went to the temple open house. Her name is María del Cármen, and she and her 3 children are the most ready people I've met to receive and accept the gospel. One of the families in our ward has been working with them for quite some time now, but they didn't want to accept the missionaries or go to the church until they went to the temple. They went to the temple open house 2 or 3 weeks ago, so we've been teaching them. The best part is that they actually do the homework we leave them to read! And they understand it! Ugh, they're the best. Their date is set for the 10th of October, and I highly doubt it will change.
We also were informed of another small miracle last night, actually. We've been working for quite some time with the mother of one of our recent converts. She's been in a Christian church for a few years now, and is a little slow to grasp new concepts. We've been trying and trying and trying to get her to read the Book of Mormon and accept a baptismal date, but with absolutely no success... until this past week. With the help of her daughter and another recent convert, we got her to (very dubiously) accept a baptismal date. Then, last night, as we talked, she expressed her real concern as to why she didn't feel ready/that she would ever be ready for baptism: her marriage. Her husband is "atheist", but from the few times we've talked to him, he really doesn't know what he believes. Anyways, we promised her that if she read the Book of Mormon, prayed about it, and earnestly put forth the effort to prepare for baptism, her marriage would improve. She agreed to read, and we left, unsure of what the results would be. About 2 hours later that evening, her daughter texted us and said, "Elders! Guess what! My mom and dad read the chapter together!" We still have no idea what exactly motivated them to read together (our next appointment isn't until Tuesday, so we won't know until then), but I really can see no negative side to Imelda reading the Book of Mormon together with her husband. I'm pretty excited to see what happens with her, but I feel it's still going to take quite a bit of effort on our part.
And those are pretty much the highlights of this past week. Tomorrow will be pretty interesting because it's a holiday called La Noche Mexicana when they celebrate their indepenance. Apparently there are a lot of (drunk) people that shoot their pistols up into the air with no thought whatsoever of the consequence, so we'll be getting back to the house a little early so there aren't any bullets that fall on us. That would be bad... In any case, iré y haré,
Well this week was a little sad in terms of the number of emails I received... Normally I get more or less 13 from friends, family, other missionaries, etc. This week, I got 5: 2 from President Egbert, 1 from the church headquarters about my mission account, and 2 from Dad. Love ya, pops!
Depressing social life aside, this week was pretty good. We had a baptism, taught a lot of people, and had a ton of people commit to come to church. As is the story of my mission, about a third of the people who said they would come to church actually came. On the bright side, all 6 of the people that came to church aquired a new baptismal date, and 5 of those 6 will probably be sticking to their dates and be baptized in the next few weeks. One of those is Juan Jesus, a niño mágico (yes, magic child). They are called such because they're children who's parents are members being reactivated, so really all we have to do is teach them the 5 lessons, and they'll be baptized. His date is for September 26th.
The best part, however, is that the other 4 are a family of super receptive investigators. Another family in the ward has been working with them for quite some time, but they didn't want to accept the missionaries or come to church until they went to the temple. Two weeks ago they went to the temple open house, so last week they accepted us into their home. Every single one of them accepted a baptismal date for the 10th of October, and when Sunday came, they were all there in sacrament meeting!
The craziest part of this week was or baptism. We weren't sure for a little while if we were going to have one. Damiana's daughter-in-law called us thursday afternoon and said that Damiana was feeling sick and wasn't sure if she would be able to make it to her invetview/baptism. That, of course, was the LAST thing I wanted. I had also received some other bad news at about the same time about another missionary, so I had a huge wave of negativity hit me all at the same time. With lots on my mind and no time to act, I said one of the most fervent prayers of my life, asking for comfort and to know what to do so that everything would come out right. I don't even remember what I said in that prayer or when exactly it came, but I felt a wave of comfort overcome my body as though Heavenly Father were telling me that everything would be okay. I didn't know how or when, but I knew it would all be okay. So, with that small testimony-builder on the power of prayer, we left for the day.
Later on that afternoon, Elder Gallegos and I met a man who began to tell us that he had read parts of the Book of Mormon, but that we couldn't know it was true because God doesn't answer our prayers. Elder Gallegos was absolutely speechless. He had no idea what to say to this man. In a moment of clarity, I simply said, "I know it's true."
"No, you believe it's true."
"No. I know it's true."
"And how is that?"
"Because God told me."
"He's never answered my prayers."
"Just because he hasn't answered yours yet doesn't mean he doesn't answer mine."
The conversation ended with me inviting him to continue reading the Book of Mormon and to continue praying with real intent to know that it's true. If he really wants his answer and is willing to act accordingly, God will give it to him. I left that contact felling empowered. Elder Gallegos looked at me awestruck and asked, "How did you do that?"
In another moment of clarity, I said, "Simple. I told him what I knew."
The thing that's really special about the mission is that there are so many small and simple moments that help us to recognize the hand of the Lord in our lives, especially when He fills our mouths with the words He would have us say. The thing that saddens me is that I didn't learn to fully recognize it before my mission. I imagine that His hand was absolutely abundant in my life before my mission, but I was too blinded by all of the things I needed to do and how "busy" I was to be able to fully recognize it. At this point, I've grown very humble and repentant for not having acquired a full appreciation for the Lord before, but I want to ensure that it doesn't happen after my mission for anything. For those of you preparing for your missions, look for His hand, and you will find it. Then you can ask for His hand, and you will receive it. For those of you who have already returned from your missions, remember what you learned in your mission. I make the same promise: look for His hand, and you will find it. Ask for His hand, and you will receive it.
I have been truly blessed in these past 8 months with all of the ways I've grown and the plethora of things I've learned. I only hope to learn even more as I keep going, and we'll see what happens at the end of these 2 short years. In the meantime and between-time, iré y haré.
Elder Mitchell Mark Groesbeck
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This blog is edited by Elder Groesbeck's amazing, beautiful, younger sister Aubrie. I will post any update I get. Enjoy :)